Sci-Fi Classic, ‘The Thing’ (1951)

The Thing (1951) - Rotten Tomatoes

Welcome to Nooze-free Sunday! It’s also on the verge of being reader-free: where did everybody go?

So yesterday we watched The Thing (from Another World), the original film classic from 1951. The date’s important: by 1951, “flying saucers” could still be called “flying discs” and hadn’t yet morphed into a whole cultural industry. Astoundingly enough, this movie does a superb job of conveying the menace of the unknown. It has stood up very well indeed to the passage of 70 years, outlasting and outperforming scores of modern UFO-themed movies.

You do have to laugh off some evolutionary palaver, and accept the premise that intelligent vegetable life on a planet far, far away can produce a being that looks like James Arness.

But never mind all that! There are the guys standing around, trying to figure out how to get the flying saucer out of the ice at the North Pole, and skipping blithely ahead into horrible danger. This is suspenseful. I admit it creeped me out. Someone should’ve been there to cry, “Wait, wait, please wait! Are we sure this is a good idea?” Not that anyone would listen.

Well, it turns out not to be a good idea. Meanwhile, the general back in Anchorage keeps transmitting orders that are always two steps behind the ongoing disaster. Typical!

The Thing (not to be confused with Joe Biden’s description of the Declaration of Independence) is an unpretentious, solid, classic science fiction/horror movie–just the ticket for a dreary grey day in the middle of the winter.

8 comments on “Sci-Fi Classic, ‘The Thing’ (1951)

    1. P.S.–In case other readers are having the same problem you had with “authentication” (I don’t know what that means), can you please explain how it ought to be corrected? Something tells me you weren’t the only one.

      This is just so strange! I was average about 500 views a day–and all of a sudden, on Jan. 16, the bottom fell out. Just doesn’t make sense.

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  1. Your last paragraph cracked me up!

    Anyway, some of the old sci-fi movies were actually quite good. I still remember “It Came From Outer Space”(1953), in which we never really got a look at the aliens, but we knew of their presence by seeing things through their “eyes” occasionally — like looking through a kind of bubble. Meanwhile, there was some surprisingly good dialogue, including remarks by the local sheriff about what outdoor temperatures were most likely to produce the most violence — and no, it wasn’t about global warming, especially since the sheriff remarked that a certain amount of heat tended to make tempers flare, but as the temperature got hotter than a certain point, people got too exhausted to be violent. I remember looking it up afterward and discovering that the temperature window the sheriff had talked about was pretty accurate. My mother and I used to talk about this movie all the time for years afterward, even though we saw it only once.

    Note: I just looked it up on Amazon to see what the date of the movie was, and I warn you that if you don’t like spoilers, do NOT read the reviews, one of which gives away the ending as though we know the purpose of the aliens at the beginning. We don’t. That’s part of the suspense as well as the interesting dialogue.

  2. The parents on our residential street would take turns dropping us kids off at the movie theater on Saturday mornings and then pick us up later in the day (two movies, cartoons, and newsreels all for 25 cents). I remember seeing The Thing and at the really scary parts I would pretend I dropped something on the floor.

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